Unknown details of the Cathedral’s past revealed as 18th century documents are unearthed

Our team has unearthed historic documents that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries which have revealed unknown details about the Cathedral.

Pearson's letters regarding the Cathedral architecture

The documents, which include details of who lived in the Cathedral Close at the time and insightful information on the wishes of the Cathedral’s architect, give a glimpse into the past which have been captured in the pages of archival material.

Over the last 12 months, we commissioned a palaeography group to study historical leases and documents relating to the Close dating back to as early as 1851 and through this research these documents have been found.

One document, the 1851 Census, states that over 140 tenants once resided in the Close, which is the area immediately around the Cathedral and includes Castle Square, James Street and others.

In the census, details can be found on the properties and the residents who lived in the Close over 166 years ago. Residents included butchers, paupers, clergy staff, physicians, a distributer of stamps and a portrait artist. It is fascinating to hear about the range of people who once lived here and to learn more about the lifestyle they lead throughout the 18th and 19th century.

Part of the magic of the Cathedral is that there is still much we don’t know about it and when we have the opportunity to unlock some of the mystery and to add to Lincoln’s vibrant and rich heritage it’s incredibly exciting and important.

Amongst the Close documents, the Connected project also revealed letters dating from 1881 to 1894 written by the Cathedral architect at the time J.L Pearson. Mr Pearson had documented the current repair works to the Cathedral as well as some plans that were never completed, which could have dramatically changed the way we see Lincoln Cathedral today if they had been.

These letters demonstrate that the history of Lincoln Cathedral is not just the history of what is but what could have been, and allow us to hear the voices of the people directly involved in the creation and image of the Cathedral as we see it today.

 

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